There is no such thing as a DIY wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015
 
Photos by: jsloan
Best foot forward
It takes a village to pull off a DIY wedding. (Thanks to Amy for uploading this to our Flickr pool!)

My husband and I never really wanted a wedding. Certainly not a traditional one. When we first got engaged, we had several long discussions about whether or not to elope and avoid the party aspect altogether. We finally decided to go ahead and throw a small party, but with one overarching principle:

We were going to do the whole thing ourselves.

Now, this didn't mean DIY in the over-the-top sense. I'm not super-crafty, and had no plans to stay up to all hours making paper flowers or whatever. What it meant was that first, we weren't taking money from everyone. Even if our parents threw a stack of cash at our heads, we would punt it back, because we did not want any of the wedding demands that taking money from family usually resulted in.

Second, we weren't going to buy anything we didn't want, or that we couldn't (reasonably) do ourselves. That meant public park, no flowers or crazy decor, me making the wedding cake and appetizers, etc. Easy, right?

We didn't want to owe anyone anything, so we planned something low-key and manageable that we could totally DIY.

Then all of a sudden it was the day of the wedding. At 9am, our friends showed up. We didn't ask them — they just did. They hauled 12 tables and 70 chairs out of the basement of our venue. They cut up all the cheese and vegetables for the appetizers. They finished decorating the beanbags for the custom cornhole set that I'd painted. They taped table cloths to the tables, put globes and candles all over them, helped my husband string up all the lights, went out and bought more icing when my homemade icing didn't work out, bought more ice, bought more beer, made two salads and two types of cookies, paid the tip to my hairstylist when I found out they didn't do credit card tips, set up all the drinks, cut and served the cake, grabbed my mom and steered her away from my dad so they wouldn't kill each other, kept bringing me glasses of wine and continually chased me away when they saw me trying to work.

Then they were there with us until 11pm packing, hauling, sweeping, wrapping food, and drinking the last of the booze until the bitter end. Some friends had already volunteered to help out, but others just pitched in randomly, like my friend's husband who took it upon himself to go buy more wine mid-ceremony, or my friend from six states away whom I hadn't seen in a year who decided to wash every last dirty dish.

But I realized that for every one of my friends who was married, I'd been at their wedding, too. I'd been up until 1am coloring in blue felt flowers for their bouquet, or helping them to pee, or washing BBQ sauce out of their dress, or steering their mom away from their dad so they wouldn't kill each other, or simply watching while they jumped up and down and yelled "Holy shit, I'm married!" in the bathroom.

This wasn't a favor to me; it was just what we've all been doing for each other since time immemorial. How could I have possibly thought they'd let us do a wedding by ourselves?

The flaw in our DIY system, I found, was the Y. There was no Y in our wedding, but there was definitely a "WE."

  1. When I first saw this posted in the Offbeat Bride Tribe, I was honestly mildly annoyed. I kept it to myself, because there's no need to spread unnecessary negativity in what should be a safe space for brides to be themselves and have their thoughts and talk.

    …Then my own wedding day arrived.

    The OP is absolutely right.

    I did not delegate ANYTHING during the planning process, with very, VERY few exceptions. My brother made the d20s that served as our table numbers. My mom made the placecards and wood burned our cardbox. I regretted delegating my gown. I did EVERYTHING else myself. Research, shopping, crafting, booking… EVERYTHING.

    But on the day of our wedding, our friends and family kept our dreams on the rails. My bonus-Mom and sister (I dislike in-laws) put our favours into the little pouches they'd made. The Moms made sure the Dads and menfolk got their boutonnieres pinned in place. A friend from across the country volunteered to drive the 45 minutes to feed our cat so neither of us would have to leave the venue during prep time. He, and the friends that accompanied him, brought back things we'd forgotten for the reception. The day-of coordinator furnished to us by our venue was stellar.

    You may, like me, find it insanely hard to delegate things, but when the Big Day rolls around, it really DOES take a village.

  2. I really struggled to write a comment on this article. I am a wedding planner and posts like this really scare me. It is great that her family and friends did everything on her wedding day, but what if yours don't? I wrote a response on my blog, because it was way too much to write here. I implore couples reading this to not be under the impression that this is always how it works. On the contrary, I think this couple is extremely lucky to have a group of guests who made their wedding day come together.

    http://bit.ly/HrNZhu

      • What I find unsettling is that this isn't a community organized wedding. It is an unorganized wedding lucky enough to have a community who knows what to do. Lots of people have family and friends who will happily help so they may not need to hire a coordinator, but I do feel like they need direction. I just can't help imagining if these people hadn't magically known to show up at 9. What if they showed up at 11? What wouldn't have gotten done?

  3. I'm not sure about describing this as an unorganised wedding though, the OP did say they had volunteers down to help with on the day preparation tasks, what they are expressing I think is how much extra unexpected help they got from what sounds like a group of close knit friends rather than the entire guest list.

    If the extra friends hadn't shown up then maybe it would have been a different wedding to that planned and maybe stuff would have to be let go on the day. But that would have been fine too, that's the overriding message I've got from so many posts here.

  4. I can imagine that all the preparation went from getting ready FOR the wedding to being PART of the wedding and give you some of the best memories. To be surrounded by the people that care for you both (and your wedding) and pay back the love you showed them at theirs…awesome feels!

  5. This literally made me tear up. As a newly engaged person (read: yesterday) before the engagement and more so now, I have stressed over how we are going to pull this together using our measly salaries. We love each other. We know that. And no, we don't NEED a wedding and reception to know that, but we want to throw a party for all of our friends and family because that's what our society does (right or wrong). So reading this brought some ease to my mind because I, like you, have the BEST family and friends who would gladly help, not because I ask them to and they feel obligated, but because they WANT to help because they love us.

  6. This is exactly what we did yesterday with 30 people, in the tent garage, then bonfire in the yard with food we made in the 2 days before… Handmade gifts of bath salt, no wedding party and lots of love. I'd have it no other way…

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